Wireless Telegraphy (Television Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2002

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Dr. Howells: I do not have the figures now. If I can dig them up, I shall certainly supply the hon. Lady with them.

The hon. Member for Lichfield made an important point about the need to drive up efficiency and to ensure that, where possible, overheads are cut back. The best answer was given by the right hon. Member for South-West Surrey who drew attention to the enormous rationalisation of overheads that occurred when John Birt was at the BBC. The hon. Gentleman was right to say that that must continue.

Michael Fabricant: In the commercial arm.

Dr. Howells: I thought that the hon. Gentleman was talking about the overheads of the BBC, in general. I take his point and I apologise for misunderstanding his argument. He also referred to BBC Online. The Government have committed themselves to a rolling programme of independent reviews of BBC services, the first of which, the review of BBC News 24, is being undertaken by Richard Lambert. The next review will be that of BBC Online and it will consider whether the BBC is meeting the terms of its original approval. We expect that review to begin in the autumn.

I hope that I have reassured members of the Committee that the licence fee increases introduced under the regulations are justified. They will ensure that the BBC can continue to provide its full range of services and maintain its quality. I therefore commend them to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the Wireless Telegraphy (Television Licence Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002, No. 641.).

Committee rose at twenty-eight minutes to Six o'clock.

Column Number: 015

The following Members attended the Committee:
Pike, Mr. Peter (Chairman)
Baird, Vera
Bottomley, Virginia
Fabricant, Michael
Heyes, Mr.
Howells, Dr.
Joyce, Mr.
Kemp, Mr.

Column Number: 016

Lawrence, Mrs.
Linton, Martin
MacDonald, Mr.
McIntosh, Miss
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Salter, Mr.
Stinchcombe, Mr.
Thurso, John

The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):
Allan, Mr. Richard (Sheffield, Hallam)

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Prepared 8 May 2002